Visa Free Entry to Sri Lanka for Australian Passport Holders (Normally ~ US$79)

Moved to Forum: Original Link

Bucking a general trend for soaring visa fees across South Asia, Sri Lanka is set to roll out free visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries from 1 May 2019. The move will save the average tourist US$20-40 in visa fees making it easier and cheaper than ever to visit this idyllic Indian Ocean island.

The included countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA.

See here for cost of ETA (thanks to trev likes bargains).

Mod 26/4: The program (due to start 1st May) has been suspended indefinitely. Deal moved to the forum as it's now cancelled.

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Comments

  • I do a pretty fair Colombo impression

    I know it’s spelt differently, but I couldn’t help myself

  • Being on some cheap flights and this visa free entry will be rupee-tedly used

  • It was free when i went in 2015 hmmm.

  • +14 votes

    Visa Free Entry to Sri Lanka

    What about Amex, can we also go for free?

  • It was $ 30 USD last time I checked. Not $ 130

  • Nice. Has anyone been, and what did you think? I saw an episode of travel guides and it seemed very interesting. Quite different to what I had imagined in my head.

      • I am Origin from SL and been to India few times. People may look similar but every thing else is different. I mean better.

        • I mean better.

          Erm… SL has a population of about 20 million, whereas last time I checked India was the most highly populated country on the planet; well in excess of 3.5 billion. So comparative adjectives like 'better' hardly seem appropriate. The two countries are simply completely incomparable. It is a bit like asserting that your local corner shop or milk-bar is 'better' than New York City.

        • In terms of natural beauty, culture, old architecture and scenery srilanka couldnt hold a candle to India. It is much cleaner though…

          • @mlburnian:

            It is much cleaner though

            Yeah, of course it is.

            Australia is a good example of how easy it can be to keep a country looking relatively 'clean', if it only contains a comparatively small population, or very few peeps per square kilometre. Keeping a country 'looking clean' does not even necessarily depend on population density either though, as evidenced by countries like Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates etc.; it's also profoundly affected by wealth per capita.

            I suppose what I am trying to say is that in my humble opinion it is not fair to compare India with ANY other country in a negative manner with regard to over-simplified parameters such as 'cleanliness', because India has such a massive (and quite dense/very many peeps per square km) population that the amount of resources required to deal with that fact alone is virtually unparalleled anywhere else on the planet.

            How 'clean' would Australia be if 1.3 billion dudes lived here, I wonder? LOL

            Or maybe a fairer hypothetical question would be based on population density. India's population is (currently at least) 1.3 billion, and the area of the country is about 3.3 million square km… so about 400 peeps per square km. The land area of Australia is reportedly about 7.7 million square km. 400 x 7.7 million = a bit over 3 billion.

            How 'clean' would Australia be if more than 3 billion dudes lived here, I wonder?

            My guess is … 'Not very' ;-P

    • Given I'm of Indian origin myself, I assumed Sri Lanka would be very similar before I visited last year. Couldn't have been more wrong. Extremely different.

    • Went last year and it's absolutely awesome. Beautiful beaches and rainforests and the people are friendly (had valuables returned to me multiple times by locals). The island is small (around the size of Tasmania) so you can see a lot in a short time. You won't see as many tourists as places like Thailand and Bali but it looks like that's going to change pretty quickly - it seems like every other day I hear of another person planning a trip there.

      A lot of people will do this loop - Fly into Colombo then travel to Sigiriya (ruins of an ancient city built atop a huge rock), then to Kandy to see temples, from there you catch an old train through tea fields to Ella this town in the mountains which has awesome hikes and plenty of amazing views, from there you go to Yala to the national park to do a Safari, then usually back up the south west coast hanging out at a few of the beach towns along the way. I basically did the reverse of this loop in about 9 days staying for a day or two in each town. It's really great the variety of scenery you can see in that much time.

      Oh and it's only a $150 flight to Maldives from Sri Lanka so it's easy to tag that onto your trip which I highly recommend doing before it all sinks.

      • This is exactly what I’m currently doing, except not in the reverse order and for 14 days instead of 9. Day 5 and in Kandy right now. Maldives after Sri Lanka :)

    • I'm known for telling it like it is (find my comments on Vietnam) so here it goes.

      I was there in January 2011 so my information may be outdated.

      Pros:
      People compare it with India for obvious reasons (in fact I flew from Chennai to Colombo for pennies). It is thought you could walk from the South of India to Sri Lanka until the 15th century. Unsurprisingly, it looks very, very similar to the south of India, which is a good thing.
      Everything looks cleaner than your typical Indian city. It's like an abandoned village by comparison.
      The food is similar to southern Indian cuisine. You get coconuts and eggs. Street food is not as fancy as the hotel type. So your experience can be very different if you're mostly on a backpacker budget (as I was).

      Cons:
      Aggressive alcoholics roaming the streets at night. Not unexpected in Australia and most places of the world, but a shock after India.

      Again, my information may be outdated, but if you're not a patsy or hotel-type (i.e. a budget traveler) you might find the the dual pricing from every unblinking man and his dog a bit over the top. LOTS of stuff all over the internet but here's a sample: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-indian-su...

      Imagine walking into a fast food joint with a giant menu on the wall and being charged a price several fold higher than the cheapest item on the menu…after you order by pointing from that very same menu.

      Whenever you ask how much something costs it takes them 10 seconds to come up with an answer. And that's when they speak perfect English and might be selling only one damn thing.

      There's only one other country that matches it when it comes to the universality of in-your-face rip-offs (mentioned above). Most people are dumba$$es who wouldn't know they're being fleeced, and get sensitive when you talk about their romanticised memories. Most poor Asian countries will rip you off to some extent so it's nothing to get sensitive about.

      • Mate never experienced anything like that but I think if you went in 2011 that was really the early days of it really being opened up for tourism and I imagine it is changed a huge amount since then. I didn't experience any drunks but I didn't spend much time in the big cities at night, mostly small towns.

        I also never experienced any sort of dual pricing during the entire trip, but that might be because they now have english menus everywhere with the western price already worked in - either way I was paying $4 for a big plate of the dopest Kottu Roti that I would and have paid around $20 for in Australia.

        What's the big deal anyway? FFS of course they're charging a big fat westerner who flew in on a plane more than the local who sleeps in a shed at night. It's still cheap so I don't know why you let yourself get so bothered by it. 'Most people' aren't dumb idiots being fleeced - they're just not f**kwits and they realise how lucky they are to fly home to a nice house, a fat pay cheque, and a stable government.

        • Pretty much my experience in 2016.

        • I have to go to sleep but the outrageous stories would take a while to tell. I think you missed the point I made that it's not the rip-off itself since it's par for the course in Asia. Most of us in Sri Lanka were volunteering or working in India or Asia unlike the hoardes that followed, so the cost was an issue for some, but again, not the issue I raised.

          Dealing with Sri Lankan businesses was like dealing with an aggressive 3 year old that hasn't worked out how lying works. They gave me funny stories for life but I'd be lying that expecting shameless, in-your-face dishonesty as a default didn't ruin the human experience. There was no warmth.

          With regards to dumbasseses, I could write a full book that lists all the times a traveller told me after the fact "I can't believe I got scammed", after I warned them the scammer was obviously up to something from his shiftiness.

          Note that I'm cynical by nature and have an exaggerated dislike of being deceived, and groupthink. A normal person could probably take the deception in their stride, but I feel it my duty to re-educate scammers [especially when the deception screws you over in non-financial ways].

          It's good to hear they've caught on to how some foreigners prefer to be price gouged. Hopefully they stopped acting so shifty.

          • @peterpeterpumpkin:

            It's good to hear they've caught on to how some foreigners prefer to be price gouged.

            Yeah, see I think you missed my point.

            A normal person could probably take the deception in their stride

            Hahah jesus christ mate…

            I did have a couple people attempt scams on me, I had a guy in Kandy try the buddahs tooth scam on me. I'm not sure about your experience but mine wasnt too bad, and nothing more than I would expect as traveller in any country the world over.

          • @peterpeterpumpkin: Late to this discussion but I was with a Sri Lankan friend and he was ashamed of the dual pricing, I went to hospital and they changed the price to double
            Was extremely cheap but still doubled

            For most things my mate had to go in and buy things to avoid me getting charged extra

        • Yes agree - no drunks and no dual pricing. It’s not “cheap” in tourist areas like some other SEA countries but local prices are very cheap. As above - under $4 for kottu roti!! Get out of the tourist areas and you’ll be pleasantly surprised:)

          • @virgo16: Definitely is dual pricing for tourist sites, thinking Sigiriya where OS tourists pay close to $50 and locals less than $5. Same at a couple of other sites. Never experienced it other than these places.
            Most tourist sites aren't worth it anyway no matter the price.

            • @C781097: Have you been to Taj Mahal, more than dual pricing there.
              What's worth and what's not is all based on your interest. SL is no Bali, you go there to see things that you like to see, not for cheap holiday.
              Just be wise and stay away from tourist area for value for money, that's goes for most countries.

      • Did you have dramas in Vietnam? I've found Thais the worst for it, especially Indians & Burmese working there in my experience(in Bangkok & Phuket) nowhere near as bad up North.

        • Yeah. Nothing serious, but basically everywhere in SE Asia except Singapore and most of Malaysia. But they were sterile experiences in comparison.

          I haven't been to any of them except Thailand in the last couple of years so they may be better or worse.

          Uber/Grab etc made the whole SEA experience more tolerable (even though they tried to scam me as well…). It's like self-checkout travel when you don't want a human to ruin your day.

    • Quite different to what I had imagined in my head.

      Even more different now, after reading the news… :O

  • With the recent two visa free offers, AU passport's Henley Passport Index will go up in the global ranking

  • Is Sri Lanka Airlines any good? I might fly them and transit through Sri Lanka instead of Thai/Singapore Air next time. They seem to have fairly well priced fares. I have been to Bangkok and Singapore a few too many times.

    • It's pretty good tbh, but then again i'm Sri lankan so it feels comfortable to me anyways.

      EDIT: Honestly it's great, i think the food was great and it's a nice flight going to Sri Lanka compared to taking transits since it saves a lot of time just walking to checkpoints. Accommodation wise is pretty awesome too, the flight attendants are pretty awesome to ask anything for.

      • Hello, when did you fly? Was it recent?

        • I flew with them last month, economy class. MEL -> CMB direct. Very good service, excellent meals and friendly staff. The screens are bigger and good leg room. And very generous Alcohol offerings. lol.:D.
          However, the airport very average. Not the place for a long transit unless you step outside the airport, e.g., Nigombo where you find plenty of delicious seafood options (few minutes away). Very cheap.

    • I did a trip couple of years back and the flight was crap. 30 yr old flight & seats were (very) hard and uncomfortable. Since then I take a stop in SG or KL, specially if you travel with kids.

      I heard they've put a new flight now, not sure. Worth checking before flying or someone here can confirm?

    • If you don’t mind a pretty barebones airport then yeah the airline itself is quite good

    • Flew with them in 2016. The flight was unexceptional.

  • is this permanently or for a set period of time

  • Any Shopback or Cashreward?

  • I spent one month in Sri Lanka back in February. It's an absolutely beautiful country to visit and would highly recommend. I visited a lot of areas such as Colombo, Kandy, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya, Mirissa, Galle, Hikkaduwa, etc…

    I would definitely recommend taking the local trains and buses for a really authentic experience. People are extremely friendly as well and the scenery is incredible.

    If you do decide to travel to the central area, I recommend going from south to north to avoid the main tourist crowd who generally travel north to south. I took a train from Kandy to Ella (north to south) and was caught standing on a train for over four hours - the scenery was beautiful though.

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